It’s been a rough year for American Idol. After the news that Simon will be departing after this season, the show has been rocked by criticisms of lower quality contestants than years past, a ho-hum new judge in Ellen DeGeneres, and slumping ratings. While the show is still America’s #1 most watched TV show, the cracks in the goliath’s armor are starting to glare more visibly than ever. So, what has the show done to stymie this wave of bad press? A survey! I guess for a show that relies so heavily on fan support, opening up the program to the criticism of its supporters may be the one thing that can save it. And some of the questions are mighty revealing. Viewers can give their thoughts on the addition of Ellen, the prospect of Paula returning, rankings on all four judges (and Ryan), and thoughts on the talent level of this year’s contestants. It sounds like they don’t even need the fans’ input – they seem to already know what’s off in the Idol-verse!Here are some suggestions we have to give the show it’s groove back:
- Get rid of the judges’ save – There’s only one winner at the end of the season. That person doesn’t deserve to be someone who viewers wanted eliminated. This isnt’ a show where one bad week can mess you up (unlike Top Chef or Project Runway)- contestants are judged by viewers based on their entire season’s performance. Why save someone just to keep them around for a future elimination? Just get them out of there!
- Cut so many early rounds – William Hung was funny years ago. The pitiful tryout rounds are no longer humorous or cringe-worthy, they’re merely pathetic and for the attention-starved.
- Make sure Simon’s replacement has attitude – and a lot of it – The main issue with Ellen’s judging is that it is completely inconsequential. Fans listen to Kara and Simon because they give negative critiques. With that said, they don’t have to be downright nasty – but they should be honest. Make sure Simon’s replacement has a musical background, isn’t afraid to speak out, and will be able to properly judge the performances. Some of our thoughts? Clive Davis, LA Reid, or a rotating guest judge.
- Enough with the outdated themes – Frank Sinatra week? Sure, it sounds like a great idea in theory. But when you’re targeting a demographic of 18-49 year olds? Has Frank Sinatra even been alive in the last 18 years? (I’m kidding, I know he has). But still – the themes need to reflect the times. Beatles Week is always amazing, and Shania Twain was an interesting tweak to this year’s Country Week. Why not bring back Michael Jackson week like last year? Remember Adam Lambert’s ‘Black or White? ‘ Why not do a “Current Top 40” week? How about a Madonna week? Imagine if that was paired with the same Glee-themed episode? Fox would have been all over that!
- Don’t make the contestants sing after being eliminated – it’s mean and it wastes time. I’ve already stopped caring about them.
And most importantly…
- Screen the contestants more carefully – The best way to improve the show’s quality and ratings is by having an amazing crop of contestants. This season’s singers were below par given the past few season’s talent. That’s been reflected in the ratings. If you can pull an amazing star out of the masses next year, the masses will return to the show. Make them perform extensively before advancing, force them to show their personality, whatever. Just make sure that we care about them. This season would have been 100 times better with a Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Lambert, or anyone with a compelling story that we could care about.
We want to love you, Idol. We really do. We know you’re the number one show in America, but you’ve gotten lazy being on top. Maybe like the rest of America, it’s time to go on a diet. So please, for your own good, cut some of the fat, and we’ll once again taste the good life with you in 2011.
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